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NetHomes closes, mysteriously

The Web-hosting company abruptly cuts off its customers, saying it has been shut down because of vandalism.

Web-hosting company NetHomes has abruptly cut off its customers, citing vandalism as the reason.

"Because our free trial policy permitted a vandal to post material unacceptable to the Internet community, NetHomes has been shut down," reads a message on the site. "Your files will soon be made available for you to retrieve--watch this location for a link to your files, and NetHomes will be providing full refunds for those with credit balances."

Customers said the message was posted on NetHome's Web site starting yesterday afternoon. A voice-mail system was taking calls at the company's Chicago offices, but representatives could not be reached for comment.

Users were frustrated. "It cuts off our Web presence," said Joe Mike Brooks, whose company, Advantage Instruments, rented computer server space from the company for $5 a month. It called for a 5MB Web site.

"It was a good, inexpensive way to test the feasibility of selling our high-tech automation equipment on the Web before we made a major investment," he said.

Another customer found the explanation of the shutdown unusual. "Odd that they didn't just up their security or something," he said.